Health crisis accentuated a number of constrains of education system

Summarizing results in the education sector with Anatol Gremalschi, programs director at the Institute for Public Policy, within IPN’s series “2020 in Review: Good and Bad Aspects”.

Anatol Gremalschi said the health crisis in 2020 accentuated a number of constraints of the education system. These existed earlier too, but the crisis highlighted them, primarily the reduced utilization of digital technologies in education even if Moldova can boast of one of the fastest Internet speeds in Europe. The families have digital equipment, but these wasn’t used in education during many years. The cause resides not in the unwillingness of the central public authorities to promote digital education, but in the conservatism of the education system.

An education system, by definition, is conservative. But we turned out to be conservative to a greater extent than the traditional approach requires. We focused on classical teaching methods. The teachers opposed the use of such technologies. But the crisis made the authorities take decisions in exceptional conditions as there were no plans for preventing eventual risks in education. No one could imagine that there will be a pandemic. But the countries with tradition in state building, with government traditions always have plans and scenarios for coping with eventual crises, either health, climacteric, demographic or of other kinds. Regrettably, we didn’t have such plans and not only in education.

These aspects are not studied at teacher-training universities or at continuous formation courses intended for managerial teaching staff. Most of those who work in education are very good in teaching and less good in the management of an education system as they were taught like this during many years.

The education institutions, the education system in general follow not a logic oriented to the achievement of results, but a logic based on populist approaches. They followed the principle that we should anger no one. Shall we annul the assessments? Why not. In general, the used term is not correct. The assessments weren’t annulled, but diplomas and documents of study were issued without assessment. This is something else. The authorities, not having financial, human resources didn’t have the possibility of organizing testing in conditions of security for health.

The requirements regarding the professionalism of teachers and managerial teaching staff were diminished this year. Owing to the pandemic, the usual testing and exams could not be staged. The activities could have been suspended for a year, but shouldn’t have been organized in conditions in which the objectivity of such assessments cannot be ensured. A strange situation is created as the persons the previous years worked hard to get a teaching rank, but this year the attestations took place without the traditional assessments.

As regards the access to high-quality education, this wasn’t ensured for all the children as the switchover to online education was sudden, in the absence of a common educational form for the whole country and of methodologies acquired by teachers in advance, not during the crisis. These factors reduced the quality of education, but this cannot be estimated as the assessments were annulled.

The children in situations of risk, the children with special educational needs found themselves in a more difficult situation as they do not have access to assistive technologies that would help them to offset the constraints caused by a particular health problem. The state policy is aimed at supporting such categories, but the state resources are limited. The state could yet identify funds and bought computers, when the development parents provided support. But the identified resources are very modest against the number of students in situations of risk.

The most serious is the fact that the parents and students do not realize this as the exact situation in the absence of assessments is not known. Formally, the students have access to education, are included in the education process, but do not have access to high-quality education. The fact that a child attends school does not mean that they also study. Only tests can help see if a child studies or not. Theoretically, we can hand over diplomas of study to all the young people who turned 18 as the idea is not to further distress the people amid the health crisis. Moreover, society also does not demand objective assessments and the reaction that came after cameras were installed in Baccalaureate examination halls is a proof of this.

During the coming winter vacation, the children and teachers should have a rest as not only the healthcare workers, but also those who work in education institutions are tired given that there were too many technological novelties, new forms of organizing the education process, etc. This period is also difficult for the parents who do not feel well at work knowing that their children are under supervision.

In parallel, the authorities should standardize the methodology of mixed learning – in the classroom and remotely. The managerial staff all over the country should be trained to use such methodologies. Emphasis should be placed not on digital technologies, but on teaching aspects for using the opportunities offered by these technologies so that the students not only push buttons, but gain value added after each lesson.


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